DESTINATION: TUMBLER RIDGE

Welcome to the first edition of Destination: Tumbler Ridge! It is with great excitement, and a bit of trepidation, that I will do my best to explain what IT is that I do. I?ll start with who I am?

My name is Lindsey Vandale and I moved to the community in May of 2004 to manage the Visitor Information Booth for the summer season. I had visited Tumbler Ridge many times previous to my move. After a great summer, I was unable to secure employment through the winter and so returned to Calgary. Again, the following summer, I applied for the Visitor Information Booth position and gambled that this year I would be able to stay in the community for good. It was a good decision! Although a bit shaky through the winter months working two part-time jobs; one being at the Community Centre, I was able to make it through to the spring.

2006 was the start to another exciting season, and this time with the notion that I may be able to stay on full-time with the Economic Development Department. So, here I am now the Visitor Information Services Manager/Tourism Development Assistant for the District of Tumbler Ridge. Whew! And no, it doesn?t fit on a business card!

I hold a Diploma in Tourism Studies from Malaspina University-College, one of the leading tourism institutes in Canada. Previous experience includes work with the Whistler Chamber of Commerce, Parks Canada, Golden Visitor Centre, and the Calgary International Airport. I have a strong belief in the exceptional economic benefits of the tourism industry on rural communities. Many natural-resource based communities have turned to tourism to get them through tough times. It is always smart to have a back-up plan. With that being said, we need to enhance our tourism industry while our economy is thriving.

My task is to work with the Economic Development Officer to establish a Tourism Development Plan for the District of Tumbler Ridge. So far this has included a great deal of research, including analyzing and dissecting previous studies to utilize data that has already been collected. From there we can determine what other information we need to move forward.

With our budget requests in, we are waiting eagerly to see if we can go ahead with our main goals of the year. We have broken down our objectives into manageable pieces and determined their level of importance to the community. We have established four main areas to concentrate on:

1) Destination & Product Development -this includes increasing the number of tourism operators in the community, identifying current service and product gaps, increasing the number and variety of visitor attractions, enhancing the experiences that already exist in Tumbler Ridge, improving and expanding our tourism infrastructure, and enhancing community image.

2) Marketing -this includes establishing an annual marketing plan and planning cycle, establishing visitor profiles and identifying product to market matches, establishing a standing market research program, enhancing our ?Lasting Impressions? brand, increasing the volume of media and industry tours, establishing an ongoing photo library collection, establishing new and enhancing existing cooperative marketing opportunities and partnerships, and continuing strategic development and use of marketing mediums.

3) Communication -this includes establishing and utilizing a local communication network, establishing and maintaining a regional communication network, increasing tourism?s image to the community, and increasing the profile of local events.

4) Visitor Services -this includes investing in achieving Visitor Centre Status, investing in trainer training for VC manager (SuperHost, Visitor Info Counsellor), coordinating SuperHost training for all District staff, offering SuperHost training for front-line staff of local businesses, and establishing and implementing a process/procedure for responding to visitor inquiries.

With this infrastructure in place the community will be ready to invite visitors from around the world to explore Tumbler Ridge!

This is what I do, or am working on to date. As projects get under way I will keep you all informed monthly of the progress we?ve made on our Tourism Development Plan. Till then, have a great day! J

For additional information or comments, please drop by the Visitor Centre, or contact me by phone: 242-3123 or email: trinfo@dtr.ca